The Illinois High School Association has asked for input from fans about its consideration to go to separate one weekend for all Class 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A boys and girls basketball state tournaments, starting in 2021. The games would start on Thursday and end with the four state championship games on Saturday. IHSA officials believe this is one way to breathe new life into the tournament as well as a means to rebuild attendance that has been dwindling for years since the four class system began. Before it started, quarterfinals were played on Friday with the winners advancing, and those losing went home.
There was drama previously because the semi-finals were held late Saturday morning/early afternoon with the third place and title games in the evening. Everyone knows now that when they get to Peoria they get a trophy, regardless of outcomes. The girls will have the same format, but played a week earlier than the boys.
While the IHSA did not release details on the format as to who would play when and at what times on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday’s for the various four classes, Matt Troha, IHSA assistant executive director, provided the Decatur Tribune with this outline that is still being tweaked, “but, generally speaking, it is likely to look something like this: “Thursday afternoon 1A semifinals, Thursday night, 2A semifinals; Friday morning 1A and 2A third place games; Friday afternoon 3A semifinals, Friday night Class 4A semifinals; Saturday morning/afternoon 3A and 4A third place games and Class 1A and 2A championships with Saturday evening 3A and 4A championships.”
The IHSA also is asking for bids to host the 2021 and beyond tournaments. Champaign-Urbana, with considerable input from the Illinois Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, will submit a bid along with Peoria, who will want to retain what it now has and where the tournament is well-run and respected. To gauge coaches feelings on the matter, I wrote each of the 13 coaches the Decatur Tribune covers each week to get their thoughts and their comments are in this week’s “Irish Stew” in the Feb. 27th print and online editions.